Starting nature study with The Handbook of Nature Study

I have found that having a plan and a simple, regular routine provides a way to include all important “extra” subjects and interesting activities such as ~

  • Nature Study … well, it was a hit & miss affair, despite it being something I really believe in and a practice Charlotte Mason advocated.  I knew we did not have a plan and so it easily fell to the wayside. So I took the plunge and bought the Handbook of Nature by Anna Botsford Comstock.  (It is available free online, but seemed so detailed that I wanted my own copy.)  It arrived.  It is thick!  888 pages thick.  I realized that I needed help a plan. I went to Barb’s Handbook of Nature blog.  Barb has taken this massively thick handbook  and broken it in to seasonal and thematic challenges.  Her site is filled with friendly and easy nature study ideas, free downloads and wonderful, comprehensive eBooks to purchase.   She wrote about how to get started.

She also created The Outdoor Hour where she provides challenges (they are really more like suggested topics or ideas) on specific themes and then hosts a monthly carnival for all those families who want to contribute what they have done in their nature studies during their outdoor hour.  She says,

“The Handbook of Nature Study (blog) is written for the parent, to train them to better study the world right outside your door. I always say to take it one tree, bird, or plant at a time. Pick one focus area and go from there. You can use the Outdoor Hour Challenges to help you by following my best advice which is to complete at least the first five challenges (listed on the sidebar of my blog) and then pick an area of interest. The first five challenges will guide you through the introductory reading in the HNS and give you an idea of how to start with nature study.”

I spent some of the weekend downloading, printing and arranging the first few challenges to suit our South African seasons and printed out some nature notebooking pages (some free from HNS and others from my cd I bought ages ago from Notebooking .  Armed with our nature study bags, and notebook pages and clipboards we started our Nature Study.

It is officially spring here! Yay!

It was a perfect day to start our Nature Study challenges. We did a Spring Sense Scavenger Hunt.  What fun!

I had a second lesson planned for later in the week, but the kids wanted more. We all sketched what we saw on our walk in our nature journals and on notebooking pages..

It was so simple, relaxing, and utterly enjoyable. (Of course the kids loved being outdoors with our cute new Border Collie pups! 🙂 ) Best of all, my kids asked, Could we do this every day?” Although Charlotte Mason recommends a daily walk, we could do this at least once or twice a week and still be so much better off than missing it because I didn’t have a plan.

Our simple weekly plan also brought these subjects and activities into our daily and weekly practice ~

Will you also join in?  How have you planned your nature study times?

Blessings, Nadene

12 thoughts on “Starting nature study with The Handbook of Nature Study

  1. Pingback: OHC Blog Carnival – September Newsletter Edition

  2. Pingback: {Spice Up Your Homeschool} Science: Nature Journals - Something 2 OfferSomething 2 Offer

  3. Spring….sigh. We are falling into autumn and it is leaving me a little melancholy. I will enjoy seeing your springtime studies with the OHC. Thank you so much for all your kind words and for sharing your experiences as you start with the OHC. I look forward to every entry!


  4. Pingback: Organizing our Nature Study Notebooks | Practical Pages

  5. Wow! I’d love to do a nature walk where you reside! Looks gorgeous. I also downloaded The Handbook of Nature Study, and while I love the convenience and ease of ebooks, I still prefer the books I can hold. So I ended up purchasing the enormously thick book too! Since this is completely new to me, I bought one of Barb’s Outdoor Challenges to aid and motivate me. I love your idea of taking a once or twice weekly walk. Admittedly, the nature walks seem to fall off my to-do list. I’m in the middle of a profound change of seasons and I’m creating a life notebook that will include a daily priority list, so perhaps I will simply make the walks a priority! Time to re-engage in all His glory! Thank you for such a wonderful post!


  6. I just found her site, too and printed out the newsletter! After this week we’re going to start doing some of the suggestions in there! Looks like so much fun and the Handbook of Nature Study is such a huge book it’s hard to know where to start! Barb’s site at least gets you pointed in a direction and I’m thrilled for you and your kiddos, too! 🙂 Enjoy!


  7. Sounds wonderful! I had planned a daily walk, and have cancelled it each day because the academics are taking longer than I expected. I need to re-think my schedule, because I do want to include the outdoor time!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.